The long-awaited splash park, which is part of the Esquimalt Village Project, is on target to open at the end of May. Dawn Gibson/Victoria News

Esquimalt Village Project breaks ground

Splash park also to be ready by end of May.

There’s a lot of shaking going on at Esquimalt Municipal Hall these days, but that shaking is a sign of new beginnings.

The giant hole being dug in the ground on the former site of the public works yard and original municipal hall will soon blossom into a retail, residential and office space, along with a 10,000 square foot library — a project that’s been at least seven years in the making.

Every time acting Esquimalt mayor Beth Burton-Krahn drives by the site she can’t help but feel excited.

“I have to say I feel very satisfied because it has been a project that’s been on everyone’s mind for years and years,” said Burton-Krahn. “We’re happy to see this.”

The process for the Esquimalt Village Project (EVP) began in 2005 with a goal of creating a lively town centre and distinctive public space for the community. Consultants were brought in with concept ideas, but council opted to focus on other properties instead. The focus, however, shifted back in 2008 when there was a change in the economic climate, so council started doing everything it could to get the property ready for a developer.

In early February, council gave the project early budget approval so staff could start relocating transformers and underground electrical services and get rid of the playground equipment. The next phase was remediation of the site, which Burton-Krahn said should be done within the next week.

Development services will be at a council meeting with a permit on May 1, marking the transition of the project from township duties the developer, Aragon Properties. A ground-breaking ceremony is expected to take place shortly after.

The commercial building will be the first piece of the project, which also includes sustainable features such as alternative management methods for rainwater and energy, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly spaces with easy access to transit and green building concepts in all buildings and infrastructure.

The long-awaited slash park, located in the same area, is also on target to open at the end of May.

Burton-Krahn expects the community will start buzzing about the EVP once they start seeing it rise out of the ground. In the meantime, she’s urging the public to be patient with the construction process and park at the Archie Browning Sports Centre in the absence of the library parking lot at this time.

“Right now it’s okay, there’s a big hole and that’s a good sign, but we all get excited when we really see something starting to take shape,” she said. “There’s also just a sense that yeah, it’s been a long time coming so bring it on.”

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